ClickCease [Study] The Most Dangerous Places for Bicyclists in San Francisco 2023

[Study] The Most Dangerous Places for Bicyclists in San Francisco 2023

Whether riding for recreation, exercise, or a daily commute, bicyclists are entitled to be safe on our city’s streets. Cycling is an environmentally friendly way to commute and a great way to stay fit — good for riders and the planet.

The skilled bicycle accident team at Walkup Personal Injury Law has spent decades working on road safety issues in the Bay Area and throughout California, advocating for infrastructure improvements to protect cyclists.

Our past bicycle safety reports have identified some of the most dangerous areas for San Francisco and Marin County cyclists to avoid.

The Walkup team includes devoted cyclists who understand the benefits of bike riding as well as the hazards. We are proud sponsors of the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and other organizations that are working hard to promote bicycle safety and fair accident investigation. We know that a serious bike accident can be life-altering.

As part of our ongoing series of collision studies, we re-commissioned an exhaustive examination of road conditions for Bay Area cyclists.

San Francisco is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation. Nevertheless, safety concerns continue to exist – even escalate – in the City.

According to a recent U.S. Bike Trends Report from Streetlight Data, a firm that tracks mobility and transportation patterns in urban centers, Bay Area bike ridership has increased substantially over the last few years, beginning during the pandemic. Average daily bike trips per 1,000 people rose 55%. Between 2018 and 2021, yearly bike-share trips increased from 1.37 million to 1.74 million.

The Most Dangerous Areas for Bicyclists in San Francisco

“Despite a 10-year, citywide push to reduce traffic deaths through the Vision Zero initiative, San Francisco streets haven’t gotten that much safer,” according to a March 2024 report by the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle study analyzed collisions involving motor vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles.

The city’s density, busy pace, and proximity to major highways create serious vulnerabilities for cyclists. According to SFMTA stats, while San Francisco has over 460 miles of bike paths, only 120 of them had protective barriers as of May 2023.

As Luke Bornheimer, a sustainable transportation advocate, explained to Axios San Francisco, increased awareness of the health and sustainability benefits of cycling has likely contributed to the rise in ridership—but the increase is not a reflection of improved infrastructure or policy. “We lack a connected network of truly protected bikeways,” Bornheimer said.

Startling Bike Accident Statistics

Between 2017 and January 1st, 2022, San Francisco had 2,520 collisions involving at least one cyclist. In those crashes, ten cyclists were killed, and another 2,438 were injured – 243 of them severely.

In 2023, there were 376 bicycle crashes, all of which involved injury. Fortunately, there were no reported fatalities last year; 43 bike crashes resulted in severe injury.

San Francisco Bike Crashes by Neighborhood

Our findings indicate that the most dangerous zones are in the South of Market and Mission neighborhoods. Between 2017 and 2023, those two neighborhoods had, respectively, a stunning 904 and 728 collisions involving at least one cyclist. They were followed by Civic Center (259), Tenderloin (236), and Western Addition (195).

Seven of the 15 most hazardous zones adjoin Market Street, making it an extremely dangerous corridor for cyclists. 

The worst overall spot for traffic injury and death is the intersection of Market Street and Octavia Boulevard. Market Street is not only the city’s main thoroughfare it’s also a busy residential and commercial street. Between 2014 and 2023, over 70 collisions resulting in injury or death occurred at this particular intersection—and almost half of those accidents involved cyclists.

Other areas that rank in the top 10 especially hazardous hotspots include Golden Gate Park, the Financial District, and Downtown/Union Square. All of these areas have heavy motor vehicle traffic.

The table below ranks the 15 most hazardous San Francisco neighborhoods for cyclists, with at least 100 bicycle accidents each during the study period:

1 South of Market 904
2 Mission 728
3 Civic Center 259
4 Tenderloin 236
5 Western Addition 195
6 Mission Dolores 185
7 Golden Gate Park 182
8 Financial District 169
9 Inner Richmond 117
10 Downtown / Union Square 111
11 Mission Bay 111
12 Panhandle 108
13 Fisherman’s Wharf 106
14 Lower Haight 103
15 Outer Sunset 100

The Most Dangerous Streets for Bikes

Our study, breaking down the data by street, found that Market Street has the largest number of bicycle crashes by a wide margin and the highest number of severe injuries resulting from those collisions.

However, Howard Street is the deadliest. While ranking only 10th for number of crashes, it had five cycling fatalities in the study period, followed by Folsom and the Embarcadero, with three cyclist deaths apiece.

The following chart shows the top 10 most dangerous streets for cyclists by the number of crashes and severe injuries or deaths. It also indicates how many collisions in each region were related to an intersection:







MARKET ST  381  0  21  274
MISSION ST  230  0  14  128
VALENCIA ST  222  0  19  112
THE EMBARCADERO  169  3  11  92
POLK ST  158  0  13  116
FOLSOM ST  128  3  5  88
 3RD ST  104   0  8  77
17TH ST  103  0  2  74
HARRISON ST  95  0  10  69
HOWARD ST  85 5  14  42

The map below offers an at-a-glance visualization of the areas where San Francisco bicycle accidents are concentrated.

[Interactive Map] San Francisco Bike Collisions

Each dot on the interactive map below represents a bicycle-related collision, while each gray area represents a danger zone. Zoom in and hover over each element to reveal more information about each zone and crash.

*If viewing on a mobile device, rotate to landscape for the best experience.

Dangerous Intersections

Not surprisingly, in an urban environment Intersections are the most common site of collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles. Such crashes frequently occur because drivers of both motor vehicles and bicycles fail to yield as required by law. Cyclists often forget that under the vehicle code, they do not automatically have the right-of-way.

Common causes of collisions between bikes and motor vehicles include:

  • Speeding
  • Motor vehicle driver negligence

Bicycle rider carelessness

  • Auto driver distraction (Texting, etc.)
  • Driving under the influence
  • Roadway surface defects

While proper protective gear, especially a helmet, can help prevent severe injury or death, it’s vital to understand that cyclists remain exposed and vulnerable in any crash. Severe or life-threatening injuries are common. Survivors of bike accidents may require surgery, rehabilitation, or lengthy hospitalization and may sustain permanent disability.

The team of skilled, experienced and respected bicycle accident attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger are committed to fighting for safer streets in San Francisco and stronger cyclist protection.

Data Sources and Methodology

Our study examined the California Highway Patrol collision data for 2017 – 2023. We isolated all collisions involving at least one cyclist in San Francisco County. Our zones are formed when collisions occur within 150 feet of one another.

If you would like to report on or republish the results of our study, please link to this page to cite our work.